Posts tagged ‘yabookreviews’

September 7th, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins

Published: August 24th, 2010

Number of Pages: 400

Rating: 5/5

Yes, I lied. You may put me in time-out, but that would entail my losing computer privileges, and you would be left waiting for the review. I’m going to pretend that sounds like a loss to you and continue writing.

I truly wasn’t going to write a review of Mockingjay. I simply couldn’t fathom how I’d be able to take my scrambled and deranged thoughts and relay them in a sane way. However, I’d forgotten that Scholastic was sending me a copy for review. So, for Scholastic’s case, a review of the third and final installment in The Hunger Games trilogy – Mockingjay.


“President Snow says he’s sending us a message? Well, I have one for him. You can torture us and bomb us and burn our districts to the ground, but do you see that?” One of the cameras follows as I point to the planes burning on the roof of the warehouse across from us. The Capitol seal on the wing glows clearly through the flames. “Fire is catching!” I am shouting now, determined that he will not miss a word. “And if we burn, you burn with us!”


Mind-boggling. Gripping. Horrific. Beautiful. Haunting. Magnificent. Epic. – These are all adjectives I can imagine seeing and hearing in regard to every book in The Hunger Games. Yet none seem to encompass the incredible massiveness of the appreciation many of us have for them. Each individual book blew my mind, made me shudder, and made me yearn deeply for more. They are simply astonishing.

And yet I felt, and still feel, disappointed with Mockingjay.

Not because it was bad. Not because it wasn’t wonderful. It was fantastic. However, I think we all had something we expected from this book. Not everyone of us could be satisfied entirely, and the only one who truly needed to be satisfied was Suzanne Collins. I hope and like to believe that she’s happy with and proud of this trilogy that has shaken readers around the world.

I, however, found flaws with the book (in my opinion) that dampened the experience for me.  I believe the way things played out is exactly what the ending needed to be. I am satisfied with what happened. Just not precisely with the way they happened.

For example, it seemed to me that many if not all of the most gripping and potentially-stunning parts of the novel were summarized. Why are we asleep again? Why are we blacking out? Oh, yeah, so that all the awesomeness can be relayed to us later. I was highly aggravated by the fact that so much was skimmed over (and some seemingly unimportant things were given loads of “screen time”), particularly when the parts skimmed played a huge role in the character or plot development. Many scenes were anticlimactic in this way. I was left wondering how this happened or why this happened, or what Katniss’s thoughts on the matter were. I’d missed them because, oh yeah, I’d been knocked out of the story. I was certainly frustrated at the end. Why in the world was so much of the ending summarized? How can that happen after we’ve read through three books to get there?

The summarization was my main problem with the book, but alongside that was the feeling that this book could seriously have used one hundred more pages. In fact, these issues go hand in hand. So much was happening in such quick succession and important parts were being summarized. If events had been fleshed out a bit more to clearly relate the happenings of the book and the turmoil-filled world of Panem, I would have been very pleased.

Collin’s prose has developed beautifully since The Hunger Games. In an interview I read of hers, she mentioned that descriptions – and other things aside from dialogue – were something she was still learning about. As any true HG fan knows, Collins was primarily a screen-writer. I noticed the improvement. The prose was flawless and the voice so very Katniss.

But a different kind of Katniss.

Our dear girl from the Seam with the sack of illegally shot meat? So very, very changed. Which is completely understandable. What a life she’s had the past few years. What nearly insufferable things she’s gone through. Bleakness has shadowed and hung over her since the reaping at which her sister’s name was called. It’s a grievous thing to think that someone so young should go through things that no one – at any age – could really handle. How could she remain unscathed? Impossible. And yet it’s still depressing and heart-wrenching to follow and be in the head of a Katniss that has been beaten down. With a stick, with a broom, with a  metal rod, with the force of the most powerful government in her world, she  has been whipped. And it shows. I felt so disheartened some of the time to feel the difference in her, to feel her occasional hopelessness. But I cheered for her. Every happy moment was bliss. Every good time made me ache with happiness for her. It made me glad to read of her laughing, but there was still the weight of the omnipotence of her enemies.

Aside from Katniss, the world was pretty bleak, even more so than it had been in the previous two books. Underlying all that, however, was the promise, if small, of monumental change. That promise powered through the book and kept spirits up. At multiple points (and particularly at the quote above), I jumped where I sat and felt this indescribable urge to move. To make a difference and stand beside these fictional characters fighting for a world so much better than the one they were living in. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I felt that urge to do something deeply. This book, this entire story, is inspiring.

The characters we’ve loved throughout the trilogy are put through torture – mental, physical, and emotional. Betrayal rounds every corner and heartbreak hovers overhead, but the story is beautiful. What happens to various characters, and the things some of them say, make you feel so strongly. Feel anything. And books that accomplish that are powerful.

I love The Hunger Games trilogy. I feel as though no other Young Adult series will surpass it for years. The books have shaken people. They’ve made people fall in love with characters, with story, and with messages. I firmly believe that Mockingjay is a great ending to all this wonder.

I simply wish it wasn’t ending so soon.

Thanks, Scholastic!

August 27th, 2010

Re-Post: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins; Review

by Madeleine Rex

You know how I love words and love talking and writing with said words? Well, sometimes they fail me, too. Occasionally, I find myself so overwhelmed that I simply cannot string together enough sensible sentences to make my point. So is the case with Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy.

I got the book at midnight and finished it at nine-ish in the morning (my aunt read out loud a majority of the time). Afterward, I was so insanely tired and shocked/depressed (it’s over!). The bafflement has yet to wear off. Luckily for me, Alex at Tales of a Teenage Book Lover (he’s fourteen, too! Go fourteen-year-olds!) posted a review that astounded me. He said precisely what I wanted to say in the words I couldn’t find. What follows is his review. Comments are closed to this post because they’re due to him. His post is here, so comment there if you’d like.

Without further ado, my thoughts in Alex’s words:

Mockingjay Review:

Perhaps my hopes were too high. Perhaps I had become so attached to the characters that I couldn’t stand to see them change so rapidly. Perhaps I didn’t like being in such a dark atmosphere, not that these books were ever light. I don’t know what the problem was for me, but whatever it was, it made Mockingjay a let down.

Don’t get me wrong, I still loved it to pieces. But I was just expecting so much from this book and, frankly, I didn’t get it. Katniss, who was once so strong was so depressing and unstable in this book that it was hard to read a book from her perspective since it put you in such a dark place. Peeta, one of my favorite characters I have ever read, upset me also. So did Gale, who I’m still not sure if I like or not.

Though Suzanne Collins is probably one of the most talented writers the world has ever seen, her writing in this book disappointed me. It still had the incredible cliffhangers, and the fantastic society, but there was something missing this time around. Whenever something exciting happened, you never got to see it firsthand. It was always a blackout and you were told what happened later on. I wanted to be right in the action, but instead it was as though I slept through it.

You are invited into a whole new world in Mockingjay. It is both similar to the one we got to experience in the previous novels, and so very different. War is all around you, and it is definitely not something that is fun to read. But when is war ever really fun?

Another problem I had with this stunning novel was the pacing. It was perfectly paced until the end. Then it was like this: BAM! What just happened? Again, you are in the dark when most of the action is taking place and are told what happened later on. And the changes the characters go through at the end are sort of unbelievable.

I really don’t know how to say it. This is still one of the best book ever written, but my- and the rest of the world’s expectations were so high that when what I wanted wasn’t delivered, it upset me. I know this is how it should have played out, however, which is another reason I am so conflicted.

I guess all I can say now is please, please read this incredible trilogy, because these books are some of the best on the planet. You are in a startling new world in which you want to live in every second, while wanting to escape at the same time. It saddens me that this will be the last sentence of commentary I get to write on these books, but I will say that they are perfect in every possible way.

And there you are! My thoughts exactly.

If you’re wondering, I rated Mockingjay a 5/5 because although I was disappointed, it still seemed to deserve the adjective “amazing.” I will not be reviewing the book, but I will post a an extremely spoiler-y post in a month or so. Read it only if you’ve read the book or care nothing about it (in which case you wouldn’t read anyway).

And Monday I promise a post from me!